It seems easy enough: Wake up, don’t get dressed, unplug your phone, and snap a quick photo. But the reality of the matter is that a sexy selfie that hits the spot — the kind that you keep in a secret album in your phone, upload to a private Instagram account, let your buds see, and save for really deserving textual exchanges — takes a little bit of finesse. You might have sucked at taking a normal selfie when you got your first front-facing camera, but just like how you finally figured out the angles, poses, and lighting that combine to make you look like the Lifetime Movie version of yourself (and not the True Crime version), getting the hang of a sexy selfie demands some practice.
It’s actually as much about what you don’t show as it is what you do, and certain tricks will help you achieve an image that's ~natural and cute~, or over-it and severe (read: hot), or even cheeseball on purpose. And the real secret is to figure out how to take a pic that makes
you (not even someone else) feel some type of way. Because, let’s face it, sending pics to a romantic partner can be a lot of fun, but it’s old-fashioned to think that the purpose of taking a sexy selfie is to titillate someone else.
In the spirit of self care, self love, and self satisfaction, we’ve asked some of our favorite women in the sex-positive community to share their sexy selfie tips with us (while dressed in some of our favorite lingerie picks from the season).
While we're arguably more in control of and confident about our sexuality than ever, there's still so much we don't know about female arousal. So this month, we're exploring everything you want and need to know about how women get turned on now. Check out more
Ashley Smith — model, founder of No Agency, Playboy's November 2016 Playmate of the Month Tell me about the trick to making this pose work. “Honestly I feel like I just lucked out. That window and mirror are always there. But you can reproduce this with a full length mirror near a window with good sunlight. When I'm taking these types of things, I think about someone that makes me happy, or someone that I want to see me in the lingerie.” Any photo editing tricks you like to use? Or are you a straight shooter? “My only real trick is a phone tripod and a Bluetooth connected button that makes the shutter go off. I don't really use filters.” Where do most of your sexy selfies end up? “Most end up on my private Instagram page, or to my best friends. I don't send sexy photos to boys. I'd rather them see me in person.” What do you like most about the lingerie? “Agent Provocateur is one of my favorite lingerie brands. I love the lace and the criss-cross open back on the butt. And also that the top could potentially be worn under a blazer as a shirt. Not to Sunday church, but maybe to an Ellen Von Unwerth book release party.“ Agent Provocateur bra and briefs.
Ericka Hart — sex educator, writer, cancer survivor Tell me about the trick to making this pose work. "Put your phone over your head and angle it down to the rest of your body. This my favorite type of selfie, because you can see more of the body/outfit/location, and it's just an overall great angle! Natural light is always your friend. I was thinking I just wanted to stay in bed and NOT answer emails or do any work at all. How could I just lay still with makeup that is beat to the gawdss only wearing underwear? Answer: I will pretend I sleep and wake up like this!" Any photo editing tricks you like to use? Or are you a straight shooter? "I'm a straight shooter. My little brother told me filters are lame, so since I take most life advice from young people, I keep it simple." Where do most of your sexy selfies end up? "Well, sheesh. Most I would have to say end up in a personal photo folders. But there are definitely some past boos out there who have some scandalous (what does that even mean anymore?) photos of me." What do you like most about the lingerie? "I love that lingerie decorates areas of our bodies that receive pleasure." La Perla Windflower Briefs, $168, available at La Perla.
Calu Rivero — actress, model, DJ Tell me about the trick to making this pose work. "I always think of someone and what I want to convey...breathing and feeling my own power, my aura, my energy. Morning light is the best. I'm always taking #homephotos. For this photo, I used a self timer and piled a lot of books under the phone to get the exact position." Any photo editing tricks you like to use? Or are you a straight shooter? "I love to use a grainy filter... it makes me feel like I'm doing my own portrait book." Where do most of your sexy selfies end up? "Sometimes my social media, sometimes my personal photo folder. I'm not taking portraits like this for comments. I do it as a way of expressing something! I don't send sexy selfies to my romantic partner... it's better in person." What do you like most about the lingerie? "It's comfortable, soft — feels like TLC." Fleur du Mal Luxe Triangle Bra, $98, available at Fleur du Mal.
Yasmin Geurts — model, writer Tell me about the trick to making this pose work. "This is definitely a pose where I'm trying to fit the entire outfit into the frame, which is way harder than it seems! I'm holding myself up to get the best possible light from my bedroom window. I would say it's a mix between hard and soft lighting, which usually isn't flattering, but this time it gave kind of a pretty-ugly element, which I thought was nice." Any photo editing tricks you like to use? Or are you a straight shooter? "I just got the iPhone 7, and now my photos are so high quality. The details are wild — I can see pretty much every pore on my face. Before that, I utilized sharpen a lot on all my favorite features. Where do most of your sexy selfies end up? "I post all my favorite sexy selfies to my Instagram account. I love sharing myself with people, because I was so insecure when I was kid. Now I'm emotionally/spiritually blossoming, and hopefully helping change some toxic mindsets courtesy of the patriarchy." What do you like most about the lingerie? "I love the bra, it has an angelic 1950s French pinup feel, but it's insanely comfortable, which is surprising for how flattering it is." Victoria's Secret Lace Plunge Unlined Demi Bra, $45, available at Victoria's Secret; Fortnight Luna Seamless Bikini, $42, available at Fortnight.
Zoë Ligon — sex educator, visual artist, owner of Spectrum Boutique Tell me about the trick to making this pose work. "Whenever I'm trying to take a good butt shot, I like to twist my upper body around so that the viewer gets a lil' face action too. Disembodied butt is always cute, but I like to add a little frontal pizzazz. If I take a selfie with a selfie stick, I really love having part of the stick be visible — it feels more honest. I'm really good at using the self-timer for selfies, but isn't there something *so raw* about a selfie stick handle in view? As far as what I was thinking — I was in my backyard, so I was definitely thinking 'I hope none of my neighbors can see me,' but I was also trying to act like I was taking a candid shot of myself (even though that's virtually impossible since I was clearly taking the picture.) I think 'candid selfie' is my new favorite oxymoron." Any photo editing tricks you like to use? Or are you a straight shooter? "I'm a straight shooter. If anything, I up the brightness to make things more visible, but I hate filters. I don't like posting deceptive photos that don't look like me, and for that reason I haven't been wearing makeup in photos as much as I used to. When I see someone post a photo that is unposed, I admire their lack of caring. In this world of very rehearsed selfies, lackadaisical selfies help me appreciate my own face and body without makeup or a flattering outfit on." Where do most of your sexy selfies end up? "My selfies usually end up on Instagram, simply because I get the most positive attention there. I'll often send intentionally gross/unflattering selfies to my BFFs, and my nude selfies are strictly for my partner." What do you like most about the lingerie? "I have always been a fan of Chromat's designs, so I was really delighted to receive a set from them! I love how the top looks like a deconstructed corset — and while I will certainly rock it as lingerie, I am just as jazzed to throw it over a tight white turtleneck and go out like that. When I got the package, I immediately tried it on for my friends, and they said I looked like Leeloo from The Fifth Element (who is basically the hottest character in existence, so I was quite flattered)." Chromat Harness Bra, $129, available at Chromat; Chromat Patent Cutout Thong, $29, available at Chromat.
Mariana Firestone — model, survivor Tell me about the trick to making this pose work. "There's not necessarily any tricks besides going with what you're confident with, and being unapologetic about it. If parts of your body make you self-conscious, it's ok to not show them off — go with a pose that's flattering to what you LOVE about yourself. I think it's so easy for women to feel unattractive because they just don't perform femininity or fit what society's idea of a woman should be. We get stuck in these mindsets that it's a competition but really it's about appreciating our diversity. You can be confident and sexy without baring any skin, wearing any makeup, or serving 'bedroom eyes.' "I try to not overthink it, but at the same time I had to take about 50 selfies before settling on one. I look directly at the camera or at the screen, and I like to fantasize about multifaceted sources of pleasure — most of it has nothing to do with sex or who I'm dating (no offense). Like, think how romantic it feels to visualize living in a world free of racism, patriarchy, and violence? Like walking around topless in the summer without being harassed or objectified would be so hot." Any photo editing tricks you like to use? Or are you a straight shooter? "I don't edit my photos, but I do always make sure to think about where I'm shooting! Bedrooms are safe bets, but our sexuality doesn't necessarily start or end there, so neither should our selfies. I've had photoshoots in dressing rooms because of the amazing lighting. The more questionable ones typically happen in front of bathroom mirror's at bars (I feel REALLY attractive after a few drinks). Think of places where you might have semi-public sex: the park, a backyard you can frolic naked in, or the beach, because natural lighting works really well. I used to get a rush from sending my dates nudes taken in risky locations, almost as a sport." Where do most of your sexy selfies end up? "If I'm seeing someone, chances are that's where the nudes typically go. The more tame photos (such as this one) end up in FB groups like NYC queer cruising, which is a group for queers to post ads for hooking up, not cruises." What do you like most about the lingerie? "The lingerie is really comfortable, cute, and it covers everything. I like how it didn't have some lacy frills, or was super revealing." Araks Kinee Tank, $110, available at Araks; Brook There Rose Quartz Organic Cotton Bikini, $28, available at Brook There.
Arvida Byström — artist, photographer Tell me about the trick to making this pose work. "I come from a photography practice which make me pay a lot of attention to light, composition, and color. Phone cameras still take low light pretty badly, so I usually try to make sure there is enough of that — being close to a window can be great. I also love mirror selfies. With them, you can address the photographer through the mirror, and in the case of selfies, show that you are also the addressee! I also try to make sure the background isn't too cluttered!" Any photo editing tricks you like to use? Or are you a straight shooter? "I tweak the brightness and the white balance plus pull down the blacks on the Instagram editing tool." Where do most of your sexy selfies end up? "The sexiest ends up in my girlfriend's phone. I like taking hot selfies but it can also be a scary pressure, that is why I try to make them about compositions rather than only my body being hot — like a way to protect myself from critiques of my body. But I definitely take the purely hot ones too, and get validation from the camera, or I feel like I'm having a hot day, and I want to immortalize it. What I try to avoid though is to build up a bodily pressure that makes me feel terrible unless I do it in a certain way. Bodies are cute, weird, and gross and it's nice to find a happy way to live with that." What do you like most about the lingerie? "I love the bra — it fits sooo cuuute." Stella McCartney Clara Whispering Contour Balconette Bra, $140, available at Shopbop; Stella McCartney Knickers Gift Set, $80, available at Stella McCartney.
Clementine Desseaux — model, entrepreneur, co-founder of All Woman Project Tell me about the trick to making this pose work. "It's really not a big mystery, I was just trying to show off the outfit because it's cute and really makes the picture." Any photo editing tricks you like to use? Or are you a straight shooter? "I never photoshop my pictures and never will. I love myself the best when I look like myself." Where do most of your sexy selfies end up? "Most of my sexy selfies stay up in the cloud and never really go anywhere." What do you like most about the lingerie? "I love the confidence lingerie gives, instantly! I remember having my first fitting a few years ago and it was life changing." Cacique Intimates Bodysuit.
Rain Dove — model Tell me about the trick to making this pose work. "The pose was simple, I made sure I was comfortable and laying in a way that I actually would lay. I found decent lighting and kept the angle looking down the body to accent my long legs and torso. Then looking into the camera I just say in my head 'this is me.'" Any photo editing tricks you like to use? Or are you a straight shooter? "I tend to be a straight shooter. I think it's important to share honest photos when they are as intimate as a selfie. Photoshopping works for some people, and can be a great artistic opportunity to use. But it's not my style. Instead I use shadow and light. Lighting is a huge part of getting a good and clear photo. Light can change facial structure, bring out features, and cover or show blemishes and scars. I also realize that there's no such thing as a bad photo. We tend to be very self critical based on how we feel others may feel. Society has groomed us to identify certain angles and expressions as attractive while others are not. But nothing is truly ugly as long as you have confidence and integrity." Where do most of your sexy selfies end up? "I don't post a lot of selfies or send them either. Especially sexy selfies. While I'm confident in who I am and what I look like, I just don't feel natural constantly snapping myself. Trying to be sexy feels fake for me. The rare occasion that I do selfie it's if I'm ether wearing something that will likely be controversial or if I am trying to highlight another person I've met. Since selfies are so intentional and intimate, I see them as an opportunity to share things that I really want people to see as genuine or connecting. "Any image I share with the world is open to any perception. If anyone says anything — even something that seems negative, I'm always game to start a dialogue. I'm used to a range of commentary. From transphobic people identifying me as trans and sending death threats to people complimenting to people making chides at my body shape or 'masculine' features...It's all good. A photo is art — it will be different to everyone who encounters it." What do you like most about the lingerie? "This lingerie is something I've never worn before. I actually liked how comfortable it was and how it felt like something you could crawl into bed with, walk around the house in on a lazy day in, or even — if you wanted to — work out in. It didn't feel gimmicky." Calvin Klein Intense Power Red Bralette + Bikini, $58, available at Calvin Klein.
Victoria Gomez — model Tell me about the trick to making this pose work. "The pose is my 'signature selfie pose.' I hold my phone in my right hand slightly above eye level and always make sure that the lighting is good (natural light is best). I'm always thinking 'Girl you better smize.'" Any photo editing tricks you like to use? Or are you a straight shooter? "I don't usually edit too much. The most I would do is use the tools in Instagram to add contrast or brighten." Where do most of your sexy selfies end up? "Most of my sexy selfies end up staying right in my camera roll, but if I'm feeling extra risqué, I might send a few to my boyfriend." What do you like most about the lingerie? "The lingerie makes me feel super flirty." Lovers + Friends Simone Bodysuit in Pearl, $35, available at Revolve.